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It's hard to compete with free
Newsgator's desktop clients are all free now.
I was already using NetNewsWire on my Mac at home, coupled with their online feedreader at work, but this means I can now install a desktop client on my work PC for free. I've tried Newsgator Inbox for Outlook but didn't like it much because it seemed a bit limited and added yet more stuff to Outlook's already crowded interface so I'm trying FeedDemon now. The interface is a bit daunting but it's ok, although not as great and easy to use as NNW is. The ability to let the clients sync with Newsgator Online so you're always up to date and not re-reading stuff is brilliant.

Anyways, if all you're using right now is an online reader give one of the clients a spin, if you don't like it you can always uninstall.

Pipes!
I played around with Yahoo's pipes a while ago when it was just released and found the thing to be utterly confusing. I played around with it again today and I must say once you have a clear idea what you want to do it's pretty powerful.

A while ago the creators of the online comic strip Unshelved (it's about libraries, the people that run them, the lunatics that visit them, or was it the other way around?) decided to inject their blogposts into the feed that had previously housed only the comic strip.

Whenever I get to work my first order of business is to start up Firefox and load up Newsgator, which houses my feeds. I subscribe to 5 daily comics: BC, Wizard of Id, Savage Chickens, Unshelved and Dilbert and about 50 more serious feeds, most of them workrelated. I think I have about 100 new items to shift through every morning, and about 50 during the rest of the day, but this is clearly highly dependent on the day. If a feed that is just for amusement starts getting littered it's not really worth my time to stay subscribed. Unfortunately Unshelved is about a library and as I work with librarians all day I didn't want to just unsubscribe because of some cruft.

So! today! I! looked! at! Yahoo! Pipes! again! (sorry, I can't keep this up) and created a pipe that strips the Unshelved feed from all the redundant blogposts and just leaves the comics. If you have a yahoo account you should be able to see the source of the pipe* or create a variant, others can just subscribe to the RSS feed of the output if they so desire.


*) It's really very very simple.

Mimi
A while ago I made an applescript for NetNewsWire to alert me whenever Mimi Smartypants made a new post. For some reason this script stopped working a week or so ago and instead of looking in to why I decided to rethink it and make a new one, only better. This one screenscrapes (so will probably break on a redesign) Mimi's site and creates an RSS feed with the titles of the latest five entries, it puts the publication date in the feed as well. It is created in PHP and outputs a regular RSS 2.0 feed so any client should be able to subscribe to it.

So without any further ado here it is: RSS feed for Mimi Smartypants.

If you don't know who Mimi is you owe it to yourself to check out her site, no one else can write stuff like the following:
My CT scan came back negative. Well, it came back negative for cancer or other abnormalities---I am pretty sure it was positive for organs. The doctors probably would have mentioned it if I had turned out to be completely hollow inside or filled with sausage and cheese like a calzone.

Managing your assets
This looks like it could become a really interesting column.

I'm looking forward to following this as I currently have multiple systems of keeping track of what I have both in analog form and digital form. Almost none of these systems can be integrated easily, there's some stuff in FileMaker Pro, some stuff is in MySQL (see my earlier articles on iTunes and XML) and some of the FMPro databases are also stored as notes on my iPod but what's lacking is an integrated system.

Excellent XML tutorial
Some time ago I discovered the following website: Getting Started With XML. A workshop about XML designed for librarians and related staff.

I bookmarked the site and forgot about it, until this week a colleague of mine told me about some of the exercises she had to do for the workshop she was following. Turns out that she's getting pretty deep into XML.

In fact she is getting so deep into the stuff that there's a real danger that pretty soon she'll know more about XML than I do currently.
This cannot happen I tell you! I'm the techie around here so I'd better start learning fast else she'll take my job and give me hers, which means I'll have to coordinate people and get me some of them thar people skills I've heard about.

That's when I remembered the website mentioned above. I started reading yesterday afternoon and after an hour or so I reached chapter 5, where things are starting to get interesting. The tutorial is pretty easy to follow and the exercises are clear. In fact though the site is targeted at librarians I think it perfectly suitable for any audience. So here's my advice: If you've been meaning to start with XML there's really no better place to go.

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